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Labour support of Lisbon Treaty based on wishful thinking - McDonald

7 February, 2008

Speaking at today's National Forum on Europe gathering addressed by Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore on the theme 'Labour and the Lisbon Treaty' Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald accused the Labour leader of engaging in an exercise of wishful thinking, rather than acknowledging the reality of the Lisbon Treaty's objectives.

The Dublin MEP said:

"As an MEP I can tell Mr. Gilmore that he need be in no doubt that what the European Commission wants is to liberalise all public services and centralise decision making. That is the reality. The Labour leader's speech today appears more an exercise of wishful thinking rather than acknowledging the reality of the Lisbon Treaty's objectives or indeed the current direction of Europe.

"With so many of the left's core values fundamentally undermined by the Lisbon Treaty it is hard to understand the rationale of the party's hearty support for the Treaty.

"For example, the provision of public services by the state is fundamentally challenged in the Treaty. To date the European Commission has pursued a policy of market-opening to create competition in various sectors such as transport and telecommunications, the consequences of which can be seen by government's decision to privatise Aer Lingus and Eircom. European member states health and postal services are clearly now the next targets for liberalisation. Article 16(b) of the Lisbon Treaty place new "economic and financial conditions' on the provision of Services of General Economic Interest, meaning under current EU law services such as healthcare and education will be subject to the rules of competition.

"The Protocol on the Internal Market & Competition provides the EU with a mandate to ensure that 'competition is not distorted'. Distortions are deemed to be state aid, public funding, environmental and workers rights regulations and state 'monopolies'. How can the Labour Party believe that Europe's social model will be upheld by a Treaty that fundamentally undermines such a models core principles.

"We have heard today much celebration of the Citizens Initiative. This is indeed a worthy proposition and is already in practice throughout the EU. However the Commission is only 'obliged' to examine the proposal put forward by the million signatories but is not 'legally bound' to do anything with the demand other than to consider it. This makes the Initiative a toothless tiger as it gives citizens the right to mobilise but not to act.

"Mr. Gilmore also mentioned Climate Change in his address. The fact is that climate change will not be addressed in any greater measure because of this Treaty. The relevant article states 'promoting measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems and in particular combating climate change'. Labour must know that the recent EU Climate Change Package is based on the very same provisions?

"Despite the EUs stated objective of tackling developing world poverty and global inequality the Lisbon Treaty will fundamentally undermine this commitment. It gives additional powers to the European Commission to negotiate and conclude international trade agreements seeking to remove all trade barriers so as to pursue an aggressive trade agenda. Article 10(a) mandates the 'progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade' in its interaction with non EU states. Similar IMF and World Bank policies have already proved detrimental to developing world economies forcing mass domestic migration to urban centres unable to sustain or support its peoples socially or economically.

"There is one final issue I want to take up with the Labour leader, his party's attempt to rename the Lisbon Treaty. Deputy Joe Costello has recently made numerous requested both here at the Forum and in the Dáil for the Treaty be renamed 'The Lisbon Reform Treaty'.

"Such an effort in walking both sides of the road is a sad example of why this country's political debate remains perpetually under the wheels of car. This is a critical debate for the people of Ireland. The Treaty contains a future vision for Europe. We believe the Treaty signals the end of Europe's unique and much celebrated social model. Labour's attempt to whitewash this fact by following governments lead and attempting to rebrand the Treaty is deeply disappointing. The Lisbon Treaty will not 'reform' Europe, it will reshape it.

"No amount of marketing or wishful thinking can alter the fact that this Treaty is a bad deal for Ireland, Europe and the wider world." ENDS

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